Crazy Rich Asians was an absolute hit, earning over $238 million dollars worldwide. The romantic comedy was so big, Warner Bros. decided to renew the title for two sequels. But there is a problem. One of the two film writers, Adele Lim an Asian American, has left over a pay inequality claim.
Lim apparently was set to be paid $110,000-plus for the two films while her co-writer, Peter Chiarelli, was set to earn $800,000 – $1,000,000 for his effort. Lim argues that regardless of the fact that Chiarelli’s resume boasts far more big screen experience than Adele’s, the size of the pay difference is too extreme given the fact that both worked on the initial hit project.
It has been reported that Lim apparently rejected a deal to split her counterpart Chiarelli’s salary with him, hoping to receive a salary closer to what he earns. Now it’s far lower than what that number would have been.
Adele told the Hollywood Reporter, “Pete has been nothing but incredibly gracious, but what I make shouldn’t be dependent on the generosity of the white-guy writer. If I couldn’t get pay equity after Crazy Rich Asians, I can’t imagine what it would be like for anyone else, given that the standard for how much you’re worth is having established quotes from previous movies, which women of color would never have been (hired for). There’s no realistic way to achieve true equality that way.”
With negotiations spewing out into the public light, the pressure is on Warner Bros. to either cut a new deal with Adele to bring her back or move on to find a new writer to keep the story culturally true. Unless Ms. Lim was doing the work of an assistant, rather than co-writer, she needs an increase. It will be a shame to break up the team that was responsible for such a culturally important moment in entertainment history. In the age of pay equity, Warner Bros. ought to step up